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Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel


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Project Backgrounder


Enbridge Gateway Pipeline Project - Joint Review Panel

Project Backgrounder

The National Energy Board and the federal Minister of the Environment established the Joint Review Panel on 4 December 2009 to assess the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.Two panel members are permanent National Energy Board members:  Kenneth Bateman and the Panel Chair Sheila Leggett. The third panel member, Hans Matthews, was selected by the Minister of the Environment and appointed as a temporary member of the National Energy Board.

The Panel was required to:

  • assess the environmental effects of the project and the significance of those effects;
  • consider measures to avoid or reduce any adverse environmental effects;
  • consider whether the project is in the public interest;
  • consider comments from the public and Aboriginal peoples;
  • conduct public hearing sessions to receive relevant information about the project; and,
  • submit to the Governor in Council a report that includes an environmental assessment, as well as a recommendation on whether or not the project should proceed.

On 27 May 2010, the National Energy Board received an application from Enbridge Northern Gateway to construct and operate two pipelines running from near Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia and a Marine Terminal at Kitimat.

The Joint Review Panel Hearing Process

The Panel began the hearing process by holding Panel Sessions and asking people interested in the project to comment on a list of specific issues related to the application and the hearing process and to recommend hearing locations. Sessions were held in Whitecourt, Alberta, and in Kitimat and Prince George, British Columbia, in August and September 2010.
The Panel considered all comments and, on 19 January 2011, issued a Panel Session Results and Decision document. This document expanded and clarified the draft List of Issues, detailed the Panel's plan to conduct oral hearings along the pipeline route and near the marine components of the project, and included requests for more information from Northern Gateway.

Participation options

The purpose of the review was to gather information and views from all perspectives. In this process, someone could participate by: filing a letter of comment, making an oral statement, or registering as an intervenor or government participant.

Intervenors, government participants, and Northern Gateway were considered "parties" to the proceeding. Generally-speaking, parties played a more active role in the process. Parties who could not attend a particular hearing in person could participate remotely through a web-based application and teleconference calls.

Those who did not wish to actively participate in the joint review process were still able to follow the proceeding by viewing information in the online public registry, listening to the oral hearings via webcast, or by attending the hearings in person as an observer.

Oral hearings

The Panel gathered a significant amount of information through oral hearings. There were two types of oral hearings: community hearings (for oral evidence and oral statements) and final hearings (for oral questioning and final arguments). More information on each type of hearing is provided below:

There were approximately 77 days of community hearings in 21 communities. Most of the community hearings were held along the proposed pipeline route and near the marine components of the project. They served two purposes:

  • To allow intervenors to give a portion of their evidence orally, such as traditional knowledge or evidence that could not be provided in writing (60 intervenors chose to present oral evidence).
  • To hear oral statements.

Final hearings were held over 96 days in Edmonton, and Prince George, Prince Rupert, and Terrace in British Columbia, beginning in September 2012 and concluding in June 2013. They were held in two distinct parts:

  • To hear oral questioning about filed evidence in order to test the credibility of that evidence. This portion of the final hearings phase lasted for 91 days. For planning and efficiency reasons, each hearing session devoted to oral questioning focused on specific issues.
  • To hear parties' oral final arguments.[1] This portion of the final hearings phase ran over five days.

The Panel's report

This report sets out the Panel's recommendation to the federal government and includes the 209 conditions set out in Volume 2, Appendix 1. These conditions will be a legal requirement and apply to the project if the federal government decides to accept the Panel's recommendation. With the release of this report, the Panel no longer has any involvement in the project.

The Governor in Council will make the final decision on whether or not the project should proceed by ordering the National Energy Board to either issue certificates for the project or to dismiss the application. The Governor in Council will provide reasons for its decision.

The Governor in Council can also request that the National Energy Board reconsider its recommendation or any of its terms or conditions. This reconsideration could result in the National Energy Board confirming, removing or replacing matters contained in the report. As part of its decision, the Governor in Council will determine whether or not the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects and, if so, whether those effects are justified in the circumstances.

If the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is approved, the National Energy Board would be required to issue its certificates of public convenience and necessity within seven days of the Governor in Council's order. The final conditions will form part of the certificates.

This backgrounder on the hearing process and a list of Frequently Asked Questions can be found on the Panel's website at:

[1] Parties wishing to present oral final argument were first required to file written final argument. The oral portion of a Party's argument was to allow it to respond to all other parties' written final arguments.

Sarah Kiley
Communications Officer
National Energy Board
E- mail:
Telephone: 403-299-3302
Telephone: 403-292-4800
Telephone (toll free): 1-800-899-1265
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TTY (Teletype): 1-800-632-1663


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